Deception (Haunting Emma #1) by Lee Nichols
Published: September 5th 2011 (UK)
When Emma Vaile’s parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip, she’s left all alone in her creepy old house. But her brother’s very cute best friend, Bennett Stern—Emma’s knight in J. Crew armor—arrives unexpectedly to whisk her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls at an old-fashioned private school. She quickly finds friends in the popular legacy crowd at Thatcher and spends her free time crushing on Bennett.
But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone have gotten worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher that she can’t explain—it’s as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Finally, Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett brought Emma to Thatcher to protect her, but now he needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer
I loved this book!! So much gets squashed into its pages, it's so well paced and imaginative. Lee Nichols is not scared to create action and heartbreak. I loved the concept of the Ghostkeepers, it was original and really cool. Some of the plot elements were really intense and stuff I wouldn't expect to happen so early on did happen. This book definitely does not suffer from first book syndrome, and any set up that was there felt more realistic because you were learning alongside Emma. I felt the action scenes were a little anti-climatic and lacklustre, but the rest was excellent.
The writing was fairly standard for a YA book, enjoyable and it definitely pulled me into the story, but nothing stood out either positively or negatively.
Onto the characters; Emma was what is now a typical YA heroine. Doesn't think much of herself but all the boys are in love with her, nothing special and yet the most special etc...which annoyed me a little. I just felt such a great book deserved more than a cookie-cutter heroine. I also wasn't a fan of Bennett, he felt personality-less and much older than his actual age and not a great love interest at all. Such a shame that the main characters weren't up to par, however the supporting cast was truly amazing. The resident ghosts were spectacular; I especially liked the Rake and Nicholas but all of them had distinct voices and personalities and I loved the way they interacted with each other and with Emma. My absolute favourite character was Harry for sure, he was so eccentric and hilarious.
The plot as I mentioned earlier was jampacked, I did not feel bored for one second. I adored the main plotline of Emma growing into her ghostkeeping powers, but also the side stories of what happened at school, and the love stories there. I loved the theme of how important family and friends are, how Emma needs a support system and actually does miss and need her family.
I have to give this 4/5 because I just wasn't feeling Emma or Bennett much but this book is truly spectacular, one of the best ghost based YA's I've read.